Michele Romanow on how she took Clearco global and why ‘the world needs more Canada’
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Michele Romanow on how she took Clearco global and why ‘the world needs more Canada’June 2022
Michele Romanow, co-founder and CEO of Clearco, is a serial entrepreneur who started six companies before her 35th birthday and is the youngest-ever member of CBC’s “Dragons’ Den.” Romanow knew she was going to have to expand Clearco internationally in order to achieve success — as is the case for so many Canadian businesses. “Canada is 2% of the global economy. For us to build really big companies, they’re required to go global.”
Romanow sat down with Think with Google to share her expert advice on how to find the right markets for expansion, how Clearco found success in a difficult new market, and what tools companies can use to help drive brand awareness around the world.
Canada is 2% of the global economy. For us to build really big companies as a nation, they are going to require them to be global.
I'm Michele Romanow, I’m the co-founder and CEO of Clearco and I'm one of the Dragons on Dragon’s Den.
After you've been a founder for a long time, you think about how to enable the world and build more founders. And you realize really quickly that capital is one of the No. 1 things that they need to be expanding more.
And so building a non-dilutive, more egalitarian, data-driven way to fund founders is at the core of my mission. We have now deployed more than $3.2 billion to 7,000 founders in 10 countries around the world.
You are kept way sharper when you also have not only Canadian competitors, but global competitors. And so it was always a part of our plan very early that if we were going to build something great in Canada, we were certainly gonna do that globally.
Australia is a notoriously hard market to enter. We liked the market and we liked the proximity to Asia, but it was not one of those natural, easy, out-of-the-box markets for us.
When you enter a new market, no one knows who the heck you are. One of the biggest challenges expanding globally is building brand awareness and growing trust. YouTube and Discovery were very instrumental in us driving top-of-the-funnel brand awareness, and Search was very helpful at the bottom of the funnel.
With those two things, we saw cost of acquisition decreased by 71%, and our return on ad spend go up 228%. I mean, that's the dream, when you scale and you're able to continuously drive down your cost of acquisition.
One of the tools that we used with Google was something called Market Finder. And we used that to see which markets we were probably going to have early success in. And then we used a combination of early ad tests, where we could see how people are responding, and the cost of those conversions, and that was really helpful in figuring out which markets to go into in which order.
I tell my team all the time that great innovation comes from iteration. This was not the first product we even tried at Clearco. This was our third product. But failure is a byproduct of success. You have to be trying enough things. So that's one of the reasons ads actually work so well is because you can say, okay, we're going to get in a room. We're going to have 50 ideas. And then the market is gonna tell us in a two-week period what's working well.
Being able to test and see if a market is going to like something, also being able to test locally, was a big deal for us. And then being able to expand that into the learning so we can iterate and continue to build our campaigns.
One of the most important things Canadian entrepreneurs can do is expand globally. The world needs more Canada. It is exceptionally rewarding when you get to see your brand and your product around the world.
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